Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives

Launch of the U.S. Electronic Copyright Office

In July, the U.S. Copyright Office will go online with the beta test launch of the Electronic Copyright Office Service System (eCO). Six years in the making, the site is an initiative to ensure photographers, writers and other creators an efficient and timely channel for registering their works.

The U.S. Copyright Office is now pilot testing the acceptance of pre-registration applications via the eCO system.

The eCO system is expected to reduce application processing from 6 months to a mere 2 to 3 weeks. It will generate electronic certificates of registration, as well as public records in a format that’s easy to upload into the public search database at With the system’s dual functionality, all paper applications will be uploaded to the site upon their arrival at the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, D.C.

Aside from increasing the efficiency of the Copyright Office, the new system will be easier for copyright applicants to use. The site will accept filing fees via credit card, bank account or the Copyright Office's portal administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury. The system will store the filer’s registration information, but for privacy will not store information about the method of payment.

The registration fee is lower for online filing ($35 v. $45) as an incentive to use the new format. A second fee adjustment is expected in October for registering a group of works. A per-title listing fee will be available for listing works individually in the system’s search database—$1 online per title for electronic applications, $3 for paper applications delivered via U.S. mail.

Image files may also be uploaded to eCO system. The Copyright Office recommends using a format that will ensure their receipt of the “best edition” of the work, which in some instances could mean submitting a print via U.S. Mail.

U.S. Copyright Office seeks beta testers

The U.S. Copyright Office is accepting applications for volunteers to beta test its new Web-based copyright registration and payment system, eCO. Test participants can register their work online for a reduced registration fee of $35. The Copyright Office plans to initiate beta testing on or after July 2.
Volunteers will be accepted on a first come first serve basis subject to the following criteria:

  • Type of work (visual art, music, etc.)
  • Type of deposit copy (hard copy or electronic)
  • File format and size (electronic deposit—mp3, jpg, pdf, etc.)
  • Frequency of registration
  • Published versus unpublished works
  • Individual versus company/organization
  • Type of payment

The Copyright Office anticipates the volunteer pool will begin with basic registration claims for literary works, visual arts works (including photographs), performing arts works, and sound recordings. Later the testing will expand to other types of registration, including group registration for published photographs.

The first group of selected participants will receive eCO system log-in information and instructions via e-mail prior to the beta test launch. More requesters will be invited to participate in later stages of eCO beta testing.

If you plan to register at least one claim in the coming months and would like to be considered for participation in eCO beta testing, visit